I’m in a very frustrating and stressful job that honestly doesn’t pay me enough to work as hard as I do. I would really like to start my own business. I have a few great ideas that I’d like to pursue, but I’m certain that I’m not brave or knowledgeable enough to make such a big leap. Do you have any advice for someone like me?
Dear Uncertain Uma,
Fear. Uncertainty. Anxiety.
Those are some of the feelings that would assail you when you first decide to make the move from being a salaried individual to an entrepreneur.
If you are not afraid then you may be one of two things: unrealistically optimistic or stupid. Feelings of fear and anxiety are natural in these moments. Do not let them overcome you, but rather, use them to propel you towards your goals.
When I first decided to leave a “permanent” job in the public sector where I was in a role that carried a certain degree of responsibility, prestige and a few perks, I was bombarded by these same feelings. Uncertainty, anxiety and fear. You may ask, “why decide to leave?” “Why not just serve your 33 1/3 years; have some job security and go home with a pension and hopefully be healthy enough to enjoy your twilight years?” The answer is very simple. I had found myself in a place of disillusionment and disenchantment. I no longer felt as if I could make a contribution or that my work or ideas were appreciated. Most of all, I had gotten to a stage where I desired to find and pursue my passion.
My first suggestion to you is to find some creative way of fighting that fear, uncertainty and anxiety. You have to be absolutely certain that you want to move from a position of relative safety where you are arguably comfortable to one of complete uncertainty, insecurity and freedom. In short, you have to make up your mind, “set your face” and truly decide within yourself that you want to make that switch.
My second suggestion would be to ignore, ignore ignore. Many persons may be not only risk-averse but completely disinterested in leaving a “permanent” or “secure” job to strike out on their own and pursue their passions. A sentiment that they may be too eager to share. Remember that not everyone is on the same page with you but understand that we all have our own journey to travel. Instead, try reaching out to a few colleagues, business people, acquaintances, friends and family who may not only be supportive but who would have taken the leap and can actually give you advice on creating an exit strategy and working that strategy.
Thirdly, I would suggest that you conduct proper research. Start by looking at people in the business field that you want to get into; read blogs and magazines that are about your field of interest. Test the market for viability of your craft and possible competitors. Crunch the numbers, set realistic targets and by all means, network. Immerse yourself in your intended field. Eat, drink and sleep your passion.
Your next step would be to create a business plan. There are many free templates available online. Also, additional training can go a long way. There are a number of seminars and programmes being offered to new entrepreneurs which you can attend. The knowledge gained can add great value to your intended business venture Always be open to receiving advice and constructive criticism, be adaptable and make changes where relevant.
Once you’ve done the research and developed your plan, it’s time to work that plan. I won’t tell you not to leave your current job until you have successfully built a foundation for your business. A decision of this nature could only be determined by the individual in question. However, such a decision cannot be taken lightly. Be sure to consider all of your options and responsibilities when determining the way forward. Do not use your current situation as an excuse not to start. If you do decide to leave employment and strike out on your own, be sure to save while you are employed. This will take some of the financial pressure off when starting your business.
Also, once you have decided to leave, prepare and plan your exit strategy. Do not be hasty. Be deliberate about your business plan and execute it decisively. If, however, you decide not to leave employment but to do your business part time, be sure to allocate enough time, resources and energy to your business. Determine an average amount of time you want to spend on it and dedicate that time, per day, per week and per month. Never short-change yourself or your vision.
Finally, be honest with yourself and your family about your goals for the business.
Be brave. Move forward boldly, pursue your passions, grab hold of them and never let go.
Make the shift.
AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. Ask AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by AFETT member, attorney Simone Francois Whittier, owner of Phoenix Legal Consulting. Learn more about AFETT at www.afett.com, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at (868) 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at email@example.com.
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